There are several categories of medications cardiologists prescribe to treat heart conditions. Some of the conditions they treat are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, arrhythmias and angina.
The most common types of heart medications
Beta blockers – Beta blockers are used to treat heart attack, heart failure, angina, and some arrhythmias. They can also be used to treat high blood pressure (among other things). They reduce the heart rate and decrease the strength the of the heart muscle contractions. Some common names are Toprol, Coreg CR and propranolol.
Calcium channel blockers – Calcium channel blockers, also known as calcium blockers or calcium agonists, interrupt the movement of calcium into the heart and blood vessel cells. This process may help relax blood vessels and decrease the heart’s pumping strength. They are often prescribed to treat high blood pressure, some types of arrhythmias, and angina. A few names are amlodipine, diltiazem, nimodipine, verapamil, Verelan and Lotrel.
Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors – ACE inhibitors prevent angiotensin production. Angiotensin is a hormone that causes the arteries to constrict and narrow. ACE inhibitors help keep blood vessels open. They are prescribed to lower blood pressure and help prevent additional heart damage in people who have heart failure or who have suffered a heart attack. Some brand names include Prinivil and Accupril.
Angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs / angiotensin-2 receptor antagonists) – These medications prevent angiotensin from having an effect on the blood vessels and the heart, which helps keep blood pressure from increasing. They are prescribed to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. Some drug names are candesartan, eprosartan, losartan and valsartan.
Antiarrhythmics – These medications work to regulate the heart rhythm in patients at risk for dangerous arrhythmias. Flecainide is one example.
Anticoagulants – Anticoagulants, such as warfarin, heparin, rivaroxaban, dabigatran and apixaban, are prescribed to prevent blood clots. They can also treat existing blood clots. Brand names include Coumadin, Xarelto, Pradaxa and Eliquis.
Antiplatelet agents – These medications help prevent blood clots from forming because they keep platelets from clumping together. Some antiplatelet agents are:
- Clopidogrel – This is a medication used to prevent the blood platelets from clumping together, which can lead to blood clots. It is often used in combination with aspirin therapy to prevent clotting in patients who have stents and in those who are experiencing worsening angina.
- Aspirin – Aspirin therapy is prescribed to prevent blood clots.
Diuretics – Diuretics help the body get rid of excess fluid and sodium. This helps reduce the work the heart must do. It also decreases fluid buildup in the lungs and elsewhere in the body. It is prescribed to lower blood pressure and to reduce swelling. Some of the common drug names are amiloride, chlorothiazide, Lasix, Lozol and Aldactone.
Nitrates – Nitrates are also known as vasodilators. Nitroglycerin tablets, often taken for angina, are a vasodilator. These medications help relax the blood vessels and increase the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, also reducing the heart’s workload. Some other names for vasodilators are minoxidil and hydralazine.
Statins – Statins are prescribed to lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol). Some brand names are Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor.
The Beaumont difference
Beaumont is a world leader in innovative heart care. Our heart and vascular teams provide the most advanced treatment options. We have specialized heart care centers throughout Metro Detroit that offer technologies to care for people with heart defects.
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